Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My 6th Survivor Anniversary

Before March ends, I want to recognize a date that's important to me: my survivor anniversary.

I have written about my previous survivor anniversaries here.

As March 2021 began, I felt disappointed knowing that my 6th anniversary of surviving infertility without my children was coming up. I had so many expectations. I thought I would be settled by now. I thought I would be well into my new career. I thought I would have a girlfriend or two in real life to meet up with for lunch or yoga. I thought a lot of things. But, we all know how plans go.

As the month progressed, I realized that I may be disappointed, but I am also damn proud of myself. I kind of can't believe I am still standing. Except I'm not, ha! I have spent the last three months resting, recovering, reflecting, and reinvesting in my own development. I've done a lot of that work lying down in bed, propped up by pillows and comforted by a pile of quilts on top of me.

It's been a hard 3 years (TTC and failed treatments) followed by a hard 3 years (selling my children's home and grad school) followed by a hard 3 years (divorce and moving three more times). But I find great satisfaction in knowing that I am nowhere near where I was. 

In fact, I've been living in a new state for almost 3 years now.

Is that literal AND metaphorical? Yes, yes it is. 

This time last year the pandemic was just beginning and I knew we'd be living differently for at least a year. I felt very defeated, angry, and depressed. Now I have an optimism that things will get better. 

We are not there yet, but, again, we are not where we were.

On my actual anniversary day, I woke up, remembered the date, and got out of bed. I. Got. Out. Of. Bed. I'm pretty sure I didn't do that on my first anniversary of survival. And that's okay. So I got out of bed, took a shower, drank some coffee, and went on about my day. I lived my life. Because that's what I do now. I live.

I read, I study, and I look for a job. I run errands and I work on my quilts. I text my friends, some of whom I didn't communicate with much during my darkest years. I call my parents. I maintain my boundaries. I walk to the coffee shop to get a fruit smoothie to go. I check online for daily specials on fabric and allow myself to indulge if I see something I want. I hang out with my boyfriend. We laugh, play games, and watch tv. I stop for moments at a time to watch the snow fall, the rain come down, the sun set, and the moon shine.

I am alive. I am living. And I love it.

Happy Anniversary to all of us Survivors, whenever yours is! 

Fellow bloggers and readers, thank you from the bottom of my healing heart for all of the support you have generously given me over the years. I'm so glad to call all of you my friends.


(P.S. I now have energy for others, which is another thing I can celebrate.
This is the latest quilt top I just finished. I am excited to pin the batting and backing fabric to it, quilt it, and sew on the binding. I am excited because it will be my first donation quilt.
Through the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge, this quilt will go to a person with ALS.
I am putting a lot of love and effort into this quilt,
and I am hopeful that whoever receives it will enjoy it.)

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Healing Art Process

March sucks for me. Too many awful anniversaries. 

1. It's the month when my last fertility treatment didn't work.

2. Now it's the month that marks a full year of the pandemic.

3. It is also the month of a domestic assault that happened to me 19 years ago.

Oof. Heavy stuff.

But here I am, unemployed and living the pandemic lifestyle (the kind where I don't go eat in restaurants and haven't seen my family or friends), and it is giving me time to process so much. I've been so busy with infertility, grad school, moving states, getting divorced, starting three new jobs, and moving two more times that I haven't had any time in the last decade to think.

So I'm thankful for the processing time.

Quite honestly, I'm reading self-help books and journaling a lot. I finished The Empath's Survival Guide earlier this year. That gave me some strategies for managing all of my many, many feelings. Right now I am reading Women Who Love Too Much and it is rocking my world. I am learning so much about myself and about my patterns. After that, I plan on reading Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents to help me with my relationship with my mother. 

I'm just sick of having the same old patterns of thoughts, feelings, and reactions so I'm taking advantage of this time I have to give myself a psychologically beneficial staycation at home. I figure it's cheaper than going to some fancy retreat center for a couple of months, which I can't afford and wouldn't do in a pandemic anyway. 

It's hard work. But it's worth it.


Last month I finished reading a memoir written by a woman who started quilting and got divorced after two of her daughters died. I thought it would really resonate with me (and it did!), but then I really hated the ending. Oh well. It was still a good use of my time. As I read, I highlighted text that I could relate to and/or learn from.

Well, then... Fellow bibliophiles, please don't hate me for doing this but... Since I really didn't like the ending of the book, I went ahead and tore out all of the pages where I had highlighted text. Then I started cutting out the various highlighted text. I decided to make a collage. I used to make collages a lot in my teens and 20s, but I don't think I've done it since.

So there I was today, surrounded by words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs... I categorized them. I sorted the text into the following topics: alcoholism, losing my children, marriage, divorce, quilting, spirituality, and miscellaneous words and phrases. 

That's as far as I got today. But it's been a pretty powerful exercise for me. I can relate to and learn so much from this other woman's words and journey. As I continue this process, I will arrange the various text and glue them into pages of my sketchbook, combining them with printed images and/or swatches of fabric. 

Why? Just because.
Because I want to. Because I'm learning from it. Because it feels good to create.

I don't think the final product will look "good." But that's not the point. (I'm already regretting using yellow highlighter. I much prefer the cool color palette and wish I would've used a light blue or lavender highlighter.) Then I remembered that I made a collage of my ripped up journal entries after I broke up with the boyfriend that did what I mentioned in #3 above. I totally forgot about that painful collage until tonight. 

Writing and creating is how I process. 

I went many, many years without making anything. And now I am on a roll! Quilting, a newly started collage, and I'm even cooking a bit. (I made two quiches to celebrate Pi Day last Sunday, 3/14.) I know sooner or later I will get out my beads and leather cord that are all still boxed up and start making beaded wrap bracelets again. 

It feels so good to create again. It feels so good to be able to create again.


Healing is possible. 

It cannot be rushed. 

But healing is possible.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

When LIFE is Funny

Here is a silly little story.

My boyfriend and I were playing the board game LIFE the other day. I hadn't played it in decades. Do you know this game? I thought it was really fun when I was kid. Now it's not as fascinating lol. Basically, you spin a wheel and move around the board collecting your salary, paying your taxes, and running into both rewards and accidents that either give you money or require you to pay. Like I said, I found it more interesting when I was a kid. Now it's just too much like, well, life. Ha!

Everyone in the game must have a job for their salary and every player must get married. 

Not every player will have kids. That depends on whether or not you land on a space that says you have a son, daughter, or twins. If you do land on one of those spaces, every opponent must pay you a $1,000 (double that if it's twins). It's like a required baby gift or a mandatory baby shower attendance. Or, maybe it is simulating paying taxes for public education (something I'll never complain about in real life, I want my community educated). 

My boyfriend landed on three of those spaces and had a son, a daughter, and then twins. 

I did not land on any of those spaces. Even when playing a board game I don't have kids.

The funny part to me? I won! At the end of the game, he had all those kids and no money and I had no kids and all the money. Hahahaha.

Now if only that were true in real life!! Where's all my money, Universe?? 😂😂

Thursday, March 11, 2021

My Name is Mine

I did it. 

Almost two years after my divorce was finalized, I finished changing my name on everything.

I cried a lot.
I hated every step of the process.
It gave me a stomachache every time.

But I did it!

Now my name is mine and mine only. 

I no longer have the same last name that my children would have had. It may not seem like a big deal for some, but to me it was huge. I was NEVER going to change my last name. But I did it for my kids. I wanted the same last name as them and, understandably, so did my husband at the time. So I changed my mind, changed my name, and looked forward to raising my children.

But my children never came.

It's a relief to have my name back.
I'm glad I don't have that nominal reminder anymore. 

I have a mother's love. My children will always be in my heart.
But now my last name is no longer a painful reminder of my children who never came to be.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Thoughtless v. Thoughtful

The differences between people will never cease to amaze me.



My oldest sister included me on a group text today. Her stepdaughter gave birth. So there I was, without warning, staring at a beaming mother holding her newborn followed by another picture of just the newborn. I haaate newborn pics, especially when the baby is in the arms of the mother while still in the hospital. It's such an intimate moment, one that I never got to have and one that I don't care to witness in others.

I was so upset. I was really hurt. I texted just my sister (not the group text, which I immediately deleted) and said, "Please don't send me any baby pictures. Thank you. And congratulations!" 

You know it couldn't end there.

She wrote back saying she wouldn't send me any more. I told her thank you, that baby pictures were still very difficult for me. I told her that I was crying pretty hard and it sucked. (Why should I protect her from my feelings? I WAS crying hard and I felt she needed to know that.)

She wrote back saying she had debated including me or not, but she didn't want to leave me out.

I texted, "I'm already left out. I'm infertile."

Of course it couldn't end there either.

She literally wrote, "You are not! You have tons to contribute. You are the best aunt and sister."

I texted, "It's not the same!!!!!"

I had to end this.

I wrote, "Please don't argue with me. Let's just let this go."

She didn't write back. 

It ended.



I can't help but compare today's experience with another experience I had a couple of days ago.

I was in bed, scrolling through twitter to get sports news, fabric updates, and read funny tweets. My newsfeed is pretty well curated so I mostly see only stuff that pertains to my interests. 

One thing that I've noticed on twitter (maybe they do it on fb and ig too, I'm not on those platforms) is that people will write TW to stand for "trigger warning" before posting something that might be upsetting. I've seen trigger warnings for mention of suicide, abuse, and sexual assault.

Well, imagine my surprise when I read a tweet that said "TW: Pregnancy Announcement."

Whaaa?? I had never seen such a thing.

I read on.

The poster didn't stop there. Before sharing her pregnancy news she wrote something along the lines of, "As we share our good news we understand that many are walking the path of infertility and/or loss. Our hearts are with you and so are our prayers." 

Only then did she say that she was happy to share the news that she was pregnant.

So a total stranger posted 1) a trigger warning for a pregnancy announcement and 2) a message of love and understanding for those going through infertility and pregnancy loss before she even wrote that she was pregnant.

How. Freaking. Thoughtful.

See people?? It's not that hard to be considerate.

I was touched. I was seriously touched. 

I sent her a private message. 

I told her that her pregnancy announcement was the most thoughtful announcement I'd ever seen. I told her I was a survivor of infertility and that the way she shared her best news ever made me smile. I told her she was already an awesome mom. Then she wrote back with the kindest message and I replied wishing her and her family nothing but the best.

A warning before a pregnancy announcement? So anyone who is having a bad moment/day/year can keep on scrolling and skip past it? Freaking beautiful. So considerate and full of thought.


And that is my weekend tale of my two very different experiences.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

In Limbo Again

We can get so much calm and satisfaction from certainty, even when that certainty is an illusion. So it makes sense that being in a state of limbo can drive us crazy. Well, that's where I am again: in the in between space of what happened before and what will happen next.

     limbo (noun) —

          an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place.

          a place or state of imprisonment or confinement.

I don't like it.

Ohhh well.

Enduring the pandemic and unemployment is a very stressful and anxiety-producing time period. Here I am, just waiting waiting waiting. Waiting for my vaccine. Waiting to hang out with people again. Waiting to go eat at a restaurant. Waiting to take a trip somewhere. Waiting to get a job. Waiting to make money (so I can go eat at a restaurant and go take a trip somewhere).

All this waiting... It's just like... Well, you know.

Having experience with something IS helpful. I'm thankful for that. I am doing my best to practice acceptance that this is my life right now. I wake up in the same house and do the same things every day (eat, shower, dishes, sew, read)... It's a little boring, but I remind myself it would be much, much worse if I didn't have a place to live, food to eat, or hobbies to do. I can handle being bored. I can handle being lonely. Unfortunately, once I was honest with myself, being bored and lonely was a big part of my marriage. Being bored and lonely was definitely a big part of infertility. So, like I said, I have experience on my side.

What is next? I don't know...

I really don't like this time period. I remind myself that it is temporary. My goal is to have a job by July, but it could happen even sooner. I'm applying for remote jobs right now, holding off on applying for in-person jobs for a couple more months. I'm thankful I can hibernate during the pandemic, even though it is boring and lonely. At least I am safe. 

Thinking of everyone! I know this is dragging on and we are all really tired of it. I am always here. I check my blog almost every day. So I will be here, riding out this time in limbo...